Posted 2 months ago ago
The owner of an anxious dog has designed a line of accessories to protect pooches from unwanted attention.
Bella, a cocker spaniel, was attacked by a dog during a flyball session about eight years ago.
The incident has left her fearful and anxious around other dogs and strangers.
Her owner, Sarah Jones, has been having to explain her nine-year-old dog’s needs to other dog walkers who allow their pets to come bounding up to Bella off-lead.
But in a bid to try and give Bella some much-needed space, Sarah has designed a range of bright yellow accessories with the word ‘Anxious’ embroidered in big, bold, black letters.
The 54-year-old, from Berkshire, said: “I’d researched online about anxious dogs wearing yellow to indicate other owners should keep a distance.
“I’d put a yellow ribbon on her lead and collar. But it did nothing.
“I realised I needed to spell it out.
“I designed my range which has ‘Anxious’ or ‘Keep Away' in very bold type. I found manufacturers and had some created for Bella.
“Instead of always having to say, ‘please keep your dog away’ or ’she doesn’t want to be stroked,’ or ’she doesn’t want to play,’ or ‘please don’t touch her’ - it was there in black words on her yellow harness and lead.
“Yellow is the official warning colour for caution. It's the colour that captures your attention more than any other colour so it can be seen from a distance.
“It means walks are more enjoyable for Bella and I can relax too and not have awkward conversations with people while their dog jumps all over my fearful dog.”
The collection of accessories includes collars, leads and harnesses with the My Anxious Dog message clearly displayed.
Since the launch, Bella has come on leaps and bounds thanks to other dogs giving her a much-needed wide berth.
Sarah said: “When Bella wore the My Anxious Dog products, things started to change.
“Finally, people were starting to recognise she needed space, the ‘Keep Away’ on the yellow helped get the message over.
“I found it such a massive help and it made me feel so much calmer when out in public too.
“I did go through a stage of embarrassment, it felt like having a naughty child at school!
“I found other dog owners apologising to me when the ‘It's ok, my dogs friendly’ brigade dogs came running over to Bella.
“Seeing her confidence grow made me smile.
“In time, Bella was able to enjoy classes again. I was never going to give up on her and I was prepared to do whatever it took to give Bella the support and space that she needed to become a less anxious dog.
“No dog is beyond help. It's about giving them space and encouraging them to see the world more positively.”
Sarah runs a Facebook group called Anxious Dogs UK, with more than 7,500 dog owners seeking advice and support for their shy or reactive dogs.
The dog-lover added: “I want people who are struggling with their anxious dog to know that they aren’t on their own, particularly new owners. Often talking about experiences is really helpful.
“In the community people share the kind of things they say when other owners are inconsiderate and trainers and behaviourists are there to give advice.
“The products help too, and I feel it’s important people understand that if a dog is wearing yellow, they need space, so we work on sharing the message on social media, and next year I’m even holding a Dogs In Yellow Day on March 20.
“I would love for all owners to know that if a dog is in yellow, to be kind and give them space, so all dogs can enjoy a happy life.”